Around 1955 (I must have been in kindergarten), I went to a concert at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle and for the first time heard Ernestine Anderson. She sang with a big band. I was impressed with the quality of her voice, her phrasing, her time, the lack of gimmickry in her delivery and how she looked in her red gown. A year or so later, when she was in Sweden she recorded with Harry Arnold’s band. The long-playing record that resulted, Hot Cargo, was one of the best vocal albums of the decade and remains an example of Anderson at the peak of her talent.
Over the years, Anderson’s career and the quality of her singing have had their ups and downs. Now, she faces a discouraging down. At the age of seventy-nine, she is in financial trouble and about to be evicted from her house in Seattle. Friends and admirers are trying to raise money to stop or delay the eviction. They have set up a rescue account for her at the Bank of America. Time is short. She is scheduled to be kicked out at the end of June. Details are in this column by Robert L. Jamieson, Jr. of the Seattle Post Intelligencer
If you need to be inspired to help, watch this performance by Anderson with pianist Monty Alexander, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Kenny Clare in Berlin in 1978. Those are the musicians. Ignore the You Tube identifications, except for Brown; they got him right.
For more on Anderson’s dilemma and information about her life and career, visit her web site.